Info Pillar? More like Ad Pillar
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Info Pillar? More like Ad Pillar

2006_2_15infopillar.jpgThe spectre of Tourism Toronto’s bungled Toronto Unlimited Campaign reared its ugly head again today. The city can’t seem to make up its mind on just what its brand identity should be and has added “InfoTOgo” as yet another registered trademark. The slogan can be seen on info pillars located around the city (like this one here outside Queen’s Park).
Torontoist, along with just about every other media commentator in this city has whined about how bad the Toronto Unlimited logo is so it almost seems too easy to jump on government tourism mandarins for trying to find a slogan, any other slogan to replace the lacklustre logo launched last year.
The problem is, as a city councillor pointed out, the city now has three “brands”: Toronto Unlimited, Live With Culture and infoTOgo. Live With Culture will eventually fade away as big projects like the AGO, the ROM and the Opera House finish up and Toronto’s banner year(s) of culture ends. But infoTOgo only adds more evidence to our contention that those in charge of marketing the city don’t know what they’re doing.

Let’s take a look at the info pillar, the vehicle for the city’s new brand. We’re not going to argue about the merits of more advertising on the street but something designed to give information to tourists and those who are lost downtown should scream out that it’s a beacon of information. The pillars clearly don’t do that. Two sides of the pillar, the ones facing the busy sidewalk, are ads. The little info logo crowns the pillars but are so small that they can be easily missed when you’re staring at a huge ad for warm tropical destinations like in this particular pillar. A tourist walking past the pillars would be forgiven for not realizing that these are actually maps and info stations where they can find out about local attractions and find their way around town. Worse there are 12-feet tall pillars, where the tiny info logo would be a good ten feet off the ground and even less noticeable.
The map section of the pillar is admittedly quite attractive and functional. The maps are clear, labelled with icons that can help non-English speaking tourists, and you can even pay a toonie and take a pocket-sized version with you. The pillars also give site specific info about nearby sights and historical info. But all of this is useless unless passer-bys figure out it’s not an ad.
So here’s a few possible solutions:
1) Stronger City of Toronto branding
we can’t stand the Toronto Unlimited logo but seeing it on ALL sides of the pillars is the least we can expect. A simple strip on the top of each ad would be sufficient and go a long way in making the pillar’s role as an info source clearer and would strengthen Tourism Toronto’s branding. They spent the money on the campaign might as well get their money’s worth.
2) Redesign the pillars
If Tourism Toronto hadn’t spent $4 million on a lacklustre ad campaign maybe it could’ve found a way to design an info pillar without ads. Nonetheless, the info logo on top of these pillars must be bigger, brighter and visible. Another way would be put maps on all three sides with smaller advertising. This way, there would be no mistaking what these things are supposed to be, a service for those who have taken the time and money to visit our city and not a cash grab for outdoor advertising companies.